Some cats are more loving than others, while other cats can be on the aggressive side. Aggression in cats is not our cats attempt to attack us, but it is usually their way of expressing themselves. Some cats have had bad experiences in their past and act out accordingly. There are different types of aggressive behavior in cats and some ways you can help prevent it.
Aggression while playing
Kittens normally replace most of their social behavior with aggressive play at about 12 weeks of age and again around 8 months. Aggression at these ages is part of learning to hunt and defend their territory.
In order to stop this behavior, don’t encourage kittens to play with your hands or feet. Instead, direct their attempts to play to appropriate toys (such as balls on a string, crinkly tunnels, motorized toys, and climbing posts). If your cat insists on playing with you and ignores the toys, get up and walk away so that the behavior is not rewarded with your attention.
Un-neutered male cats and female cats in heat may exhibit aggressive behavior due to hormonal triggers. Having your cat spayed or neutered not only reduces the overpopulation of unwanted kittens who statistically have a low chance for long-term survival, but also reduces the cat’s tendency to have aggressive episodes.
Aggression due to lack of exercise
Your cat is really not that different from large cats in the wild in that they are predators and their natural activities are suited for catching the food they need to survive. In homes, food is provided and cats sleep a good part of the day. If your cat doesn’t get any exercise, you will need to help find ways for them to burn off that energy through play.
A climbing post near a window where they can watch birds and squirrels is excellent stimulation for a cat. Also, catnip toys can provide hours of great fun. Placing a ping pong ball in a dry bathtub or an empty medium-sized box on the floor, hanging things from a scratching post or even teaching your cat to fetch are all good ideas. Throw a mouse around and get your cat moving!
Aggression due to over-stimulation (which can even occur when petting)
If your cat’s aggression comes on suddenly while they are being pet, it may be caused by an abnormal sensitivity, especially noticeable at the base of the tail. If stroking your cat leads to them kneading with front paws and even drooling, they could be getting over-stimulated causing a sudden burst of aggression. Try just scratching behind your cat’s ears or under the chin.
Aggression while trying to give medication or get your cat in the carrier!
If your cat is aggressive to you when you are giving him or her medication or clipping nails, you should wrap them in a towel to do these things. To prevent your cat from fearing the towel, you can wrap them in a towel for about 10 seconds a few times each week. If necessary, a professional groomer or your veterinarian can trim their nails for you.
Aggression in cats is not unusual. And, yes, most cats can be trained to amend their behavior with patience and positive enforcement. Most of the time, their aggression is caused by fear or play.
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